Police in England have arrested a 19-year-old man suspected of carrying out a string of large-scale hacks against businesses and intelligence agencies, a target list that may include Sony and the CIA.
The 19-year-old, arrested by London's Metropolitan Police e-Crime Unit last night (June 20) in Wickford, Essex, east of London, is believed to be behind denial-of-service attacks against "a number of international businesses and intelligence agencies," according to the official police statement.
Police are examining "a significant amount of material" seized during a raid on the teenager's home, but have not said if the suspect has any ties to the Lulz Security or Anonymous hacking groups.
However, the suspect's mother confirmed with the BBC that his name was Ryan Cleary, which is the name of a well-known former member of Anonymous who had a falling out with the group earlier this year. And a Twitter posting by a suspected leader of Lulz Security indicated that Cleary was affiliated with that group as well.
Anonymous and Lulz Security, itself an Anonymous spinoff, have claimed responsibility for some of the largest website takedowns, intrusions and defacements of the past year, including attacks on the websites of Sony's PlayStation Store, the Central Intelligence Agency, Topeka, Kan.'s Westboro Baptist Church and several foreign governments.
Lulz Security, or LulzSec for short, came to prominence in early May when it released personal data on Fox Broadcast Network employees stolen from the company's servers.
Neither group has taken responsibility for the massive PlayStation Network intrusion in mid-April that compromised 102 million personal accounts.
In early May, Anonymous' online message boards, AnonOps.net and AnonOps.ru, were both compromised by a hacker who claimed to be protesting what he saw as a takeover of Anonymous, nominally a leaderless organization, by a small elite group of less than a dozen hackers who made decisions without consulting the full membership.
Shortly after the message boards went down, other Anonymous members "doxed" — posted identifying personal information about — the hacker who took them down. The British technology website Thinq captured a screenshot of one of those postings, which indicated that the hack was perpetrated by Ryan Cleary, a British teenager living in Wickford.
If Cleary was indeed arrested Monday, it may have come as a result of his online enemies sending information to the authorities. Several of the elite cabal accused by him and others of having taken over Anonymous are also thought to be the founding members of LulzSec.
Yet it appears Cleary was on good relations with LulzSec. One of the group's suspected leaders, who calls himself "Sabu," tweeted Tuesday that "all members of lulzsec are safe. ryan Clearly (sic) has little to do with lulzsec besides running irc.lulzsec.org. Media needs to fix story."
The arrest and police investigation came just a day after LulzSec announced its new hacking call to arms, " Operation Anti-Security."
Partnering with Anonymous, LulzSec kicked off its anti-government campaign by launching a denial-of-service attack against the United Kingdom's Serious Organised Crime Agency.
In other Anonymous/LulzSec news Tuesday, TheNextWeb.com's Joel Falconer quoted an Anonymous member who said the group had stolen 10,000 emails from Iran's foreign ministry and had knocked the ministry's website offline.
"It's near the election's anniversary. We had to do something," Falconer's source said, referring to the 2009 Iranian presidential election and the weeks of demonstrations and bloodshed that followed.
"For the election's anniversary, we have a complete DDoS attack day" planned out, he added, perhaps unaware that the anniversary of the election actually passed on June 12.
Watch this computer-animated video from Taiwan's NMA TV for a fun take on the Anonymous/LulzSec collaboration: